Relic is a producer, rapper, and beat maker from Toronto. Currently on tour across Canada with the Extermities (Fresh Kils and Uncle Fester of the Backburner Crew). He's been extensively featured on Rational's debut album "The Birthwrite" and has passed through our fair city of Saskatoon a few times. He'll be stopping by Long and McQuade this sunday for a production workshop with the Exremities.
Check the tour poster below for dates in your area, if you're reading this across Canada!
I had the chance to catch up with this renaissance man of rap and get inside his head for a bit. Check it:
Chapter: Greetings Rel, I've seen you perform a few times in the last few years with Rational and Kils, but for those who don't know who you are, please give the obligatory introduction. History, Crews, affiliations, etc etc etc!
Relic: My name is Relic, aka Rel McCoy. I'm an emcee/ producer/ singer/ engineer from the Toronto area. Although I'm not signed to a label, I'm down with artists from Droppin Science ( the record label for Ghettosocks, The Extremities, Ambition, Timbuktu, Muneshine, etc. )
Chapter: Where might people have heard your work, without even knowing it?
Relic: You may know me from the work I did with Shad on all 3 of his records. I've also done some work with Ghetto Concept, Thrust, Wio-K, Fresco P, and a heap of other indie hip hop artists from Toronto. I've recently done some work with The Extremities and Ambition, with feature verses on their projects. I'm really excited about what these guys are doing. They're core fam for me.
Chapter: Your style is extremely polished and based in classic sampling and cadences. You also have some great vocal chops with the singing. Where do you feel your influences come from for each of these areas of your expertise, past and present?
Relic: Thank you. With regards to producing, I would say J Dilla, Primo, Hi-Tek, Alchemist, Extra P, and Pete Rock are my main influences. The singing was something I held back for a while, but warmed up to it when I noticed what Mos Def was doing. His singing style isn't this shiny R&B cheezy crap... it is real genuine, and seems to come from the soul. I love what he does. It helped me to see a way of fitting in some singing without getting all Luther Van on everybody.
"Heart of Work" from "Miles to Go" Featuring a bevy of cameos from Toronto's most recognizable, and talented!
Chapter: You've just dropped a new album called "Miles to Go." Lets talk about that for a minute, what's the meaning behind the name?
Relic: The name for the new record came from my Mom. When I was 17, I watched my step father have a stroke in front of me. It affected me in a big way. I remember when the paramedics were strapping him into a stretcher and my Mom saying "He can't die now, we still have lots of things we wanted to do together... there's miles to go." The title track on the record delves into that experience a bit more specifically. I also chose that because I wanted it to be something that would be a decent continuation from my last record "The Green Light". This is my first full length self-produced record in a while. I'm real happy with the way it turned out.
Chapter: What headspace were you in while recording and writing this album?
Relic: To be honest, the times I was writing most of the songs for this record, I was dealing with some personal struggles. I think that comes thru a little bit... but I always try my best not to sound like a complainer, or self deprecating ass. There's nothing worse than a whiny emcee. Some of the songs I was really just having fun with, and just let them creatively happen without being too serious.
Chapter: Did you have a specific vision for the samples and drums you wanted to use for this?
Relic: Creatively I like to move with the moment. I listen thru a ton of vinyl from different genres and try to formulate a loose sense of the type of feeling I want to convey and take it from there. The drums are always something I take time with. I've been test driving some new ideas with regards to drum sounds and patterns lately, but there's not an overboard sense of experimentation on this record. Working closely with Fresh Kils and sharing ideas back and forth with regards to cadence and timing has helped me step out of my comfort zone a bit.
Chapter: What equipment did you use in the construction of this album?
Relic: I use a number of things to get the job done, but my go to machine is the MPC 2500. I like the sound that comes out of it, and I find it easy to use to get sounds manipulated to how I like them. I also use a SP1200, ASR-X PRO, and Logic.
Chapter: You have a few heavyweight guests on this album, is there anyone you'd like to work with in the future?
Relic: All of the people I have featured on this record I know personally, or have been introduced to by close friends. I know a ton of talented people, but only a handful of REALLY talented people. I value the music I make in a big way because of all of the time and dedication I've put into it, so working with sub-par or "some-times" artists ain't for me. That being said, there are a ton of artists I love and look up to, but I really just love to work with people that are dedicated hard workers who have honed their skills. Right now my fav 5 are - Black Thought, Elzhi, Phonte, Pharoah Monche, Common... it would be great to work with any one of these guys, but I'll keep my head out of the clouds for now.
Chapter: You've been building a following steadily across Canada and beyond for a number of years. Where do you find yourself gaining the most leverage whether it be touring, or collaborations or releases?
Relic: Fresh Kils and myself talk about this a lot in trying to figure out where we aim to go next. It really varies from one show to the next. We had some great responses earlier this year from shows we did in North Carolina and Manhattan. It was interesting to see that when you're from out of town some sort of instant sense of curiosity pulls people in. When you can do a great job and "wow" people, they usually respond well. Based on those experiences, I aim to keep hitting the States, and plan to get to Europe next year.
Chapter: I've heard you may be doing an album with Fresh Kils (of the Extremities, for the uninitiated) is there any truth to this rumour?
Relic: I can't give you details just yet, but yes there is a project. Undeniable chemistry when Kils and I collaborate. I'm hella excited about it.
Chapter: For the gear heads, what is your favorite piece of equipment in your possession?
Relic: The SP1200 is my beloved dinosaur. I still love the grit. I will never get rid of it. PEOPLE NEED TO STOP ASKING ME IF IT'S FOR SALE. lol
Chapter: Favorite break?
Relic: It changes now and then.. but I've always loved the drums from " California Soul " by Marlena Shaw.
Chapter: What is on the horizon for you?
Relic: I'm on the road with The Extremities and Ambition on the Miles To Go tour. From there, I'll be wrapping up The Extras record, which is a groupI formed with my dude Brotha Soul from NC. Looking to release that in early 2013. Going forward, more shows and touring with Fresh Kils, and the record we're working on. At the moment I'm focused on getting Miles To Go into as many ears as possible. It's been going great so far.
Chapter: Any words of advice for upcoming producers, rappers?
Relic: For anyone involved in hip hop in any capacity, I would say get out there. It's great to be a dope rapper, producer or break dancer, but hip hop is not these things on their own. Hip hop is people, a community. Honing your skills and being locked in your basement is great, but going out and meeting the other people in your local hip hop community is key in growing in your understanding of how the industry works. Those relationships you will build are crucial in gaining ground if you're serious about music.
Chapter: Any last words or shouts?
Relic: Shout out to anyone who supports indie hip hop. Artists cannot exist without fans, and vice versa. Thank you for buying the records and coming out to the shows.
For more info, hit up Relic's website: http://www.relmccoy.com/
or his soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/rel-mccoy